Are all masks good for protection against infections?

by Caitlin

The increasing rate of viral infections has resulted in specific measures being put in place. One of the various measures put in place to curb the spread of these infections is the use of personal protective equipment. PPE is the term used for grouping several types of equipment that help in protecting you from any contamination.

Face masks and other types of face coverings fall under personal protective gear. These masks are particularly useful in protecting facial openings like nostrils and mouth from the virus. Due to the acute shortage of respirators, many people tend to improvise with other types of masks. This article highlights some of those face masks that are being used as protection against infections.


N95 respirators

These types of masks can be classed as the standard mask for protection purposes. It is approved by top health regulatory bodies due to effectiveness in shutting out particles. N95 is an acronym; N means “Non-resistant to oil” and this means this type of masks are ineffective for shutting out fluids, 95 refers to the efficacy of the masks as it’s capable of shutting out up to 95% of airborne particles. KN95 masks are often preferred by healthcare practitioners when treating infected patients.

Surgical masks

Surgical masks remain the most popular substitute for N95 respirators, and this can be attributed to its effectiveness. Surgical masks have three layers that are made from different materials; these layers effectively filter particles and other harmful substances. In most cases, surgical masks could prove useful in shutting out fluids, but the same cannot be said of particles. Surgical masks are disposable and are meant to be used once or twice at most.


Respirator masks

These types of masks were initially designed for spray painters in order to shut out chemicals from entering their nostrils. Respirator masks have inbuilt valves that have filters to keep out droplets and particles. The efficacy of this type of mask in keeping out viral particles is a bit doubtful as the masks were not built for such purposes.

Cloth masks

In a bit to improvise for the inadequate masks in circulation, many people have gotten creative with improvised masks. Cloth masks have started to gain widespread popularity amongst young folks, and a lot of those people are getting creative with this kind of mask. However, the use of this type of mask isn’t guaranteed to keep out viral particles, especially if the infected person is at a close range.

cloth mask

Cycling masks

These types of masks were designed to help cyclers get through air pollution in heavy traffic. Cycling masks have inbuilt air filters that are particularly suited to keeping out airborne particles, but much is not known about its capability in keeping out liquid particles. It’s important to note that the filters in these cycling masks are not as specialized as those in N95 respirators.

Final thoughts

Virus outbreaks have become inevitable, and various measures have been put in place to curb these infections. One of the measures put in place is the use of personal protective equipment like masks. These masks come in various shapes and sizes; this article highlights some of the unique qualities of each type of mask.

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